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Our vision

The Centre, housed at Senate House in Bloomsbury, at the School of Advanced Study, University of London, was created in September 2021.

The Centre for the Politics of Feelings is devoted to the interdisciplinary understanding of how emotions and feelings can be active causes but also targets of political behaviour in diverse socio-political contexts

The Centre will address from a multi-disciplinary perspective, how affect and emotions and their underlying neurophysiological mechanisms shape political behaviour in intricate couplings with rationality, as well as how politics shapes and exploits affect and emotions. The Centre represents a focused, timely and multidisciplinary endeavour to give a new answer to an age-old question:

What does it mean to be a political animal in the 21st century of 'emo-cratic' politics, alternative facts, social media, precarious health and populism

The longer-term aim is for this academic Centre to become a world-leading hub for the continuing understanding of how reason and social passions, in their inextricable symbiosis, define our political engagement with the social world.


The Centre for the Politics of Feelings, funded by the NOMIS Foundation, is a partnership between the School of Advanced Study , the Warburg Institute and the Institute of Philosophy ,at University of London and the Department of Psychology at  Royal Holloway University of London, and is directed by Professor Manos Tsakiris.

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Latest Publications

During political campaigns, candidates use rhetoric to advance competing visions and assessments of their country. Research reveals that the moral language used in this rhetoric can significantly influence citizens’ political attitudes and behaviors; however, the moral language actually used in the rhetoric of elites during political campaigns remains understudied. Using a data set of every tweet (⁠N=139,412⁠) published by 39 US presidential candidates during the 2016 and 2020 primary elections, we extracted moral language and constructed network models illustrating how candidates’ rhetoric is semantically connected. These network models yielded two key discoveries. First, we find that party affiliation clusters can be reconstructed solely based on the moral words used in candidates’ rhetoric. Within each party, popular moral values are expressed in highly similar ways, with Democrats emphasizing careful and just treatment of individuals and Republicans emphasizing in-group loyalty and respect for social hierarchies. Second, we illustrate the ways in which outsider candidates like Donald Trump can separate themselves during primaries by using moral rhetoric that differs from their parties’ common language. Our findings demonstrate the functional use of strategic moral rhetoric in a campaign context and show that unique methods of text network analysis are broadly applicable to the study of campaigns and social movements.

Hackenburg K, Brady WJ, Tsakiris M. (2023) Mapping moral language on US presidential primary campaigns reveals rhetorical networks of political division and unity. PNAS Nexus. 2023 Jun 9;2(6):pgad189. doi: 10.1093/pnasnexus/pgad189 .  Access the paper here | Data can be found here :

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